Quick story about how God is moving in the Middle East, even in the midst of conflicts in the region.
My friend and I were walking along the coast the other day, looking for opportunities to show someone Jesus’ love. We had walked for about 15 min without any notable opportunities, so as we were walking we simply prayed, “Lord, if you have someone you want us to meet with, show us who that is so we can talk with them.”
Not 5 seconds after we prayed that, we walked by two guys sitting on a bench. Sitting beside one of the guys was a large bible in the local language. My friend and I saw it, looked at each other, and gave a “heh, that’s cool hey?” look at each other, then we kept walking…
After a few seconds, we looked at each other and gave each other a “wait, wait, wait a minute!” look.
(We remembered that we’re in a place where roughly only one of every 16,000 people knows Jesus, so if someone has a bible, that’s a significant rarity, and is probably a God opportunity.)
We walked back to the bench, and in the local language I asked the guy who had the bible, “Hey man, is that your bible?”
“Yeah it is!” was his reply.
“Really? Are you a Christian, or…?”
“No, I’m not yet… but I’m researching… Why? are you guys Christians?”
“Yeah we are.”
“REALLY? Seriously? Do you guys have a few minutes? Could you sit with us for a bit and chat? I’ve been reading this Bible for the last month and a half, and I have a TON of questions”
So we did. We sat and chatted for the better part of an hour. The guy’s name was Mohammed. And he was serious when he said he’s “researching”. He started asking us questions showing that he really had been reading a lot of the Bible the last while. He asked questions about what Jesus did when He was on the earth, about God’s reaction towards sin, about who the Holy Spirit is, etc. It was a riveting conversation, and more than stretching to have in a language other than English.
As we were talking, Mohammed’s friend was listening intently. At one point, I asked him what he thought in regards to what we were talking about. He told us that he was Muslim, but he and Mohammed had been friends since they were kids, and he was with his friend regardless of what he ended up believing.
We talked until my friend and I had to go. As we were getting ready to leave, Mohammed and his friend both thanked us profusely for stopping and chatting with them. “I think it was God’s will that we met you today. It seems like more than a coincidence.” One of them said.
When they said that, we explained what happened right before we saw them (how we had asked God to show us if there was someone He wanted us to talk to). When we told them that, they were super excited. “Then this was definitely something God set up!”
Mohammed asked if we could meet the following week and talk more, which we agreed to. His friend lives in another city, so he said when he comes to visit again we’d meet up and talk some more.
Before we left, I asked Mohammed’s friend, “Hey, do you have a Bible or New Testament?”
He replied, “No, I don’t… but when you guys were talking, all I was thinking was, ‘Man, I need to get myself one of these books and read it for myself’.”
Now, as a bit of a back-story, I the last few months I’ve been reading through a local language copy of the New Testament, purposefully marking any spots that talk about the divinity of Christ, the Gospel, who Jesus is, etc. I marked them so that I could memorize them and use them while sharing with people, or just to help with language learning. I just so happened to have that copy of the New Testament with me when I met these guys.
So, after Mohammed’s friend told us he wanted to get a New Testament himself, I said to him, “In that case, can I give mine to you as a gift?”
“Really?” He said, “No, no, you don’t need to do that.”
“I know,” I said, “But if you want a Bible, I’d love to give you mine.”
“Wow, ok, yeah!” He said, “I’d love that… But if so, I want you to write something in the front page for me. Would you do that?”
So, I wrote him a note in the front page, and gave him my New Testament filled with marks and notes all about who Jesus is. Afterwards, we all exchanged contact info and planned to meet again.
I ended up getting to catch up with Mohammed this past Friday. He told me he is just at the point now where he just wants God to show up in his life and speak to him, so he’s been praying for that. He also told me that he’s started having dreams since we met with him. He told me that he had a dream a few nights before where he heard someone start to recite Bible verses to him. He said, “I don’t know what’s happening, but the more I dig into this Jesus stuff, the more my life starts changing in ways I never had expected. I’m not sure if I’m ready to call myself a Christian yet, but I know I’m not a Muslim anymore.”
As we sat and talked, at one point he asked if we could take a break from chatting, and read the bible together, which of course we did.
We started reading, and we came across the passage in Matthew 16 were Jesus says, “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”
As Mohammed read it, he paused after almost every clause, and when he got to the end he asked me, “This is so foreign to me. It’s amazing, and so impacting, but I don’t understand it. What does this mean?”
So, we talked through it. I asked him to think about it and tell me what he thought. As he thought, he came up with some really good stuff that clearly showed Holy Spirit was working in his heart and speaking to him. I explained to him that in many religions people try to save themselves by doing good, by not doing bad, and by trying to measure up to their god(s) by traditions and rituals. But Jesus says, if we try to save our lives like this, we’ll lose them. But, if we give our lives to Him – if we lose our lives for His name – that will save us. There’s no other salvation outside of Jesus.
As I was sharing, he was listening closely to everything I was saying. I asked him afterwards if what I said made sense. “Yeah, so much,” he replied.
Pray for Mohammed. Pray that has he continues to have dreams, continues to research about Jesus, and continues to seek truth, that the One who is the Way, the Truth, and Life Himself would reveal Himself to Mohammed more and more clearly and powerfully.
And pray for his friend. These guys have a lot to lose if they chose to follow Jesus… but they also have so very much to gain. Pray they see the value of what Jesus is offering them…
On top of that, there’s millions more like Mohammed and his friend hungry for Truth, and hungry to know Jesus.
Pray for them. The Harvest is plentiful.